Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Education Beyond the Walls of the Classroom!

I am so excited about what is happening here at Curtis Elementary!  At Curtis we are all about creating a positive learning experience for all:  students, parents, teachers, staff, and the community! 

We are embarking upon a new journey after school at Curtis!  Students have the option of joining a variety of clubs after school three days a week.  It is all about impacting students' lives in a safe environment.  

On Tuesdays, students gather in chorus in the Music Club.  Mrs. Johnson, our music teacher, Kristi O'Keefe, our Creation class teacher, and Chastity Puckett, the STAR mentor coordinator have teamed up to provide an opportunity for our students to express them through music.  Students will work to perform vocally and instrumentally.  They will be planning to perform at various events throughout the school year. 

The Bouncing Roos are in the house!  The Curtis nurse, Kayce Camp, Judy Tidwell, the Curtis Secretary, Shanna Garner, the Curtis Attendance clerk, Lindsay Fuller, counselor,  Marie Hernandez the Assistant Principal, and I will be teaming up to help some of our students to enhance their basketball skills.  This is a performance group that will improve fundamentals and ball handling skills.  Students will perform at a couple of Weatherford High School basketball games as well as Weatherford College Coyote games!  

Curtis Elementary is also really trying to encourage positive behaviors with our students.  The Kindness Club will meet on Wednesdays after school.  Students will partner with Lindsay Fuller, the Curtis Counselor, to look for ways to promote positive relationships and eliminate Bullying!

One of the many opportunities our students have 
at Curtis is the Maker's Club on Thursdays.   Students partner with one of our parents, Dr. Keith Emmert, a professor at Tarleton State University.  He is going to work with students in the Maker's Club and help them to create model cars on our new 3D printer.  The students will use math to help predict and increase distance and speed of these cars.  

Creating opportunities for students to pursue their passion is important.  We hope that providing after school programs like these will be the beginning of greater things to come!  Because of all of these after school experiences, Curtis is the World-Class school of choice!  2015-2016 is sure to be the best year ever!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Finest Hour

Wow!  We are off to an awesome start of the school year at Curtis Elementary!  Classrooms are looking better than ever with innovative, collaborative spaces.   This new classroom design allows students and teachers to create, innovate, and collaborate! 

One way that we try to do school differently at Curtis is through Genius Hour.  Teachers encourage creativity and innovation during this time each week.  This simple idea came from Google.  Google allowed employees to spend 20% of their time at work on their passions.  Around 50% of Google's projects originated from  this creative time.  At Curtis, Genius Hour is all about student voice and choice!  Students are encouraged to research, discover, and learn about their passions. Teachers facilitate by devoting a set amount of time each week for students to work on their passions. 

 During the first week of school, many students participated in the cardboard challenge.  During their Genius Hour time, students created useful items with cardboard boxes.  It was thrilling to see the innovative ways ours students could use a cardboard box.  Teaching students to think is an important part education at Curtis Elementary.  Thinking is taught through creativity allowing students to dare to be innovative.  It is all about the journey of learning.  Genius Hour is a great way for teachers to tap into students' passions and to learn beyond the walls of the classroom.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Meet the Teacher Night at Curtis!

Wow!  Words nearly escape me in trying to describe the night we had at Curtis Elementary! (For those of you that know me at all, you know better than to think that I could ever be at a loss for words though.)  The Innovation RooStars had a smash hit for our Curtis students and families.  Right now songs are flitting through my mind to recap the night's event.  I will indulge myself with a few bars of The Four Seasons' hit, "Oh What a Night!"

Meet the Teacher at Curtis was a great success.  The events of the night was live on CHUCK 89.5 and with the sound of Dave Cowley's voice resonating through the airwaves capturing the activities as they unfolded.   The school was teeming with sights and sounds of smiling faces, giggles, and nervous chatter.

Community Partners teamed up with Curtis offering resources and information to our families and students as well. Among those partners were Manna, Center of Hope, Doss Heritage Center, Weatherford Community Education, Weatherford Public Library, Weatherford College, Weatherford 4-H, Weatherford Police Department, Weatherford High School Cosmetology, Weatherford Blue Belles, Weatherford High School Cheerleaders among others.  The Weatherford Fire Department even had a fire truck available for students to check out! First Student provided a bus for students and parents check out before climbing aboard on Monday morning.   Curtis is so thankful to have community partners that make education a priority.

Hotdogs, popcorn, and school supplies were also a hit!  Over 500 snow cones were given away to smiling faces.  Another hit of the evening was the "Selfie" booth.  Students were able to take a selfie with the Weatherford Roo mascot!  Overall, the night was a huge success.

Curtis Elementary is ready to "Rock" this year!  The staff at Curtis is geared up for a Future Ready experience for our students and can't wait to greet our students and families on Monday morning.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Fun with Blogging!

It is exciting working with fellow educators on blogging.  Several educators are ready to start blogging and encouraging their students to blog too!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Innovation RooStars!

We are going to rock the 2015-2016 school year as Innovation RooStars at Curtis Elementary.  As the Curtis Elementary principal, I am so proud and honored to lead Curtis this year, and I am especially excited about the possibilities that the new school year will bring.  The amazing staff at Curtis Elementary has a special treat for our Curtis families.  We kicked off our new year by creating our own rock videos to welcome students back to school.  Our office staff opened with "Don't Stop Believing."  This video is a tribute to the innovative learning experiences we will offer for both students and teachers.
You can view our version of Journey's epic song!  Wait!  there is much more to come!  For the encore, each of our grade level teams will be posting their own rock and roll videos this week!

Curtis teachers can't wait until Meet the Teacher night on Thursday, August 20, 2015.  This even will be from 3:00 - 6:00.  We have an awesome night planned and in our RooStar form, the entire night will be jamming live on Weatherford's own radio station- 89.5!  We will have free hot dogs and popcorn.  Curtis will also offer free haircuts from 3:00-4:30.  (Maybe some of those 80's hair styles will emerge!)  School supplies will be available to those in need.   Curtis has partnered with a variety of community partners including Weatherford's Fire and Police Departments, the public library, Center of Hope and much more!  We hope to see all of our students and parents on Thursday so that we can get ready for a rocking new school year!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Innovation RooStars...The Roovolution Rocks On!

   I am the new principal of the world-class Curtis Elementary, and I am so excited about the new school year! 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Innovation RooStars

I am an Assistant Principal at Curtis Elementary, a world-class elementary school.  I believe that the learning opportunities we provide students at Curtis will prepare them for the future!  Curtis Elementary is heading the right direction as a Future Ready school that promotes innovation.  At this time in education, it is imperative to change what schools are doing for students.  We must do school differently in order to prepare students for success in the world.

Teachers at Curtis Elementary are blazing a trail innovation by becoming connected learners.  Teachers are connecting with other educators around the state, nation, and world to provide valuable learning opportunities for students.  One of Curtis Elementary' teachers is Amanda Rogers.  Amanda is the Curtis Elementary Teacher of the Year and the WISD Elementary Teacher of the Year!  Amanda provides a connected learning experiences for students each day.  Her students have had experiences connecting to authors, business partners of the community, and renowned research scientists across the globe.  Amanda challenges her students through Project Based Learning.  Students are currently designing zoo enclosures for animals by collaborating with a local engineering company in our community.  Students in Mrs. Rogers' class are authentically engaged and learning beyond the walls of this school tapping into their passions and talents.  Students are learning beyond the brick and mortar of this campus.  They are having fun and developing a love of learning.   Because of world - class educators like Amanda Rogers, Curtis is a world-class school of choice!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Why Do We Wait?

Last week I traveled to Camp Brady Spruce with our 5th grade students, and it was amazing!  Our students had a wonderful time at camp.  For some of our students, it was an experience like no other experience that they ever encountered.  I am so proud of our 5th grade campers. 

Student really bonded and learned so much about themselves and others at camp.  They participated in team building activities, hikes, canoe riding, and of course, KICKBALL!  It was really rewarding to observe students as they problem solved in the team building exercises.  At first, students are unsure of how to approach a problem and work together to succeed.  The parent chaperones would fidget on the sidelines wanting to jump in and help the kids, but the camp counselors requested that the kids figure it out for themselves.  The kids would figure it out!  They learned to trust each other, help each other, and even ask for help when they needed it.  This experience allowed some of our students to transform and realize their own leadership potential. 

At the end of every school year, we offer many opportunities for team building at Curtis.  We have our End of Year Celebration in May, which for the older students is preceded by several weeks of KICKBALL practice.   I was once one of those teachers that prepared my students for victory on this special day. Some might say that I was way too into it.   I learned that if my class worked well together, they could claim their trophy as the champs!  It always helps to have skilled players on the team, but when you know you are outperformed athletically, strategy can overcome.  As a teacher, I made sure my students operated like a well oiled machine and played well together. (It also helped that I was also a member of kickball team.... and I am not too shabby either).  When one of my teams lacking the talent faced an opponent full of talented students that argued and disagreed, we would win!  My students would work together and use strategy to outplay the other teams.  It is all about building a healthy team and providing students with opportunities to lead others.  This time of year is so fun!  Then after we had so much fun learning from each other, school would end.

I always have questioned why we save the fun team building experiences for the end.  While we do some team building activities the first few weeks of school, we all too often will get caught up in classwork and assessments (which is very important) and  lose sight of how important it is to build a strong, healthy team within our classrooms.   Think of the possibilities!  Building this strong team with some good, old-fashioned competition or going to camp at the beginning of year might build a strong team.  One that is trusting, willing to take risks together, and learn together. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Got Data; Now What?

We are half way there now, but hopefully we are not living a just a prayer. With the first semester behind us, we are assessing students  with common assessments and benchmarks.  Why do we spend valuable class time to administer  tests?  (The question that resounds in the minds of many busy teachers.)   There can be many benefits  of administering mid-year assessments.

 Not only do assessments help us to gauge where students are  in closing academic achievement gaps and meeting goals, but assessments also assist teachers in providing authentic testing practice for their students.  Curtis Elementary teachers will be pulling out their "Plus/Delta's" and "PDSA's" in the coming week.  Classroom conversations focused on  what went well during testing and what did not go so well will help to ease the anxious minds of young test takers.  Adapting classrooms, providing proper accommodations to alter the testing environment so that it is conducive for a positive test taking experience will be part of this important conversation with students.  The ultimate goal is to identify the best testing environment to allow each student to demonstrate what they know.

Our teachers at Curtis Elementary will also utilize the district assessment data in order to make important decisions that will impact student achievement.   The data will be disaggregated to determine standards that need to be re-taught. Teachers will be able to determine how to shift their teaching practices and tweak strategies  in order to better engage students.

The most important thing our teachers will do with the data they collect from these mid-year assessments is to share the data with students.  Whose data is it anyway?  It is the students' data!  How can our students truly improve and learn if they do not know their weaknesses?  By allowing student to understand their data, teachers can empower them to change their own path. Before they can make significant changes in learning, students must be part of the process for change.  Allowing student to develop their own plan for improvement will yield higher increases in academic achievement. Curtis Elementary students will be analyzing data, tracking data in their data binders, and making connections regarding their own improvement.  Students will develop plans for how they will cross thresholds and move towards reaching their goals!